When they refer to fall bass fishing the “Mid-Fall” period is the one they are talking about. By this time, water temperatures have fallen to the low sixties/upper fifties and the bass have really strapped on the old feed bags. The techniques will be similar in nature to the early fall period but the location of your quest shifts further into the back of creek arms and bays.
The reason for this is the fact that the bass are following the schools of baitfish which are searching out their primary forage plankton. Plankton tend to thrive in the upper end of creek arms and backs of bays since those areas are usually receiving more concentrated levels of nutrients they feed on. One indication of a rich phytoplankton population is the presence of a greenish coloration to the water (the phytoplankton are green due to the presence of chlorophyll for photosynthesis).
As the creeks discharge water into the creek arms, the water is often laden with the requisite nutrients derived from fertilizer runoff thereby feeding the phytoplankton which in turn feeds the baitfish with the bass hot on their proverbial tails!
Which creek arms might be best?
Simply the creeks with an active in-flow of water since the influx carries both the nutrients required to feed the plankton and it provides a constant source of dissolved oxygen helping offset the oxygen depleting effect of dying plankton and other vegetation.
Mid-Fall Fishing Techniques
Lure selection and presentation methods are similar to early fall but the location has shifted to the back of creeks. Once the bait and bass move into the upper portions of the creek arms and backs of bays, you still want to focus your lure presentations on isolated structures scattered across the flats, especially those near some sort of break-line.
An even better situation occurs when you locate scattered structures in creek arms with well-defined creek channels and migration pathways between the structures and the creek channel. The more well developed creek arms contain both the channel (a major break-line) and adjacent flats. The best flats are usually those with scattered structures opposed to those with extensive structural elements.
Narrow creek arms tend to have limited flats adjacent to the channel. In this situation, bass often use the confined area of the narrow creek environment to corral the baitfish into tight pods thereby making them easier prey. When this condition exists, it is very common to see bass busting schools of baitfish in these confined settings.
Lure selection during the mid fall period should be the same as in early fall. Larger profile baits that can be worked quickly around shallow, isolated structures are often best.
Prime examples include:
• Spinnerbaits with large blades in baitfish patterns;
• Buzzbaits in baitfish or bright patterns (my personal favorite);
• Thick bodied, weightless worm or stickbait as a follow-up to misses on buzzbaits;
• Lipless crankbaits in baitfish patterns;
• Shallow, square-billed crankbaits; &
• Large-profile, light-colored swim jigs.
When starting your search in the creek arms for bass in the mid fall period, one approach to maximize your time on the water is to motor up into the backs of the creek arms and then slowly work your way out toward the mouth. Once you have located the main concentration of migrating bass and baitfish, you can then focus your efforts in that part of the creek to optimize your results.
One other thing to keep in mind, during this period, though the bass still relate to isolated structure (i.e., scattered tree pods over the flat rather than flats covered with standing trees), the fish tend to be more concentrated on the structure they’re relating too. After locating the section of the creek holding the greatest numbers of fish, keep working each structure since multiple fish are likely holding on or near it.
As the mid fall period starts to wind down and make the transition into the “Late Fall” period, the appeal of the larger, faster moving baits wanes. This means it is time to re-define both your approach and tactics when seeking late fall bass.